Precision rugby from premiers
By STEVE ARCHBOLD
COFFS Rugby first grade coach, Paul Butcher, couldn't have been more impressed with the way his troops went about their business on Saturday.
A 48-0 victory over Port Pirates at Port Macquarie sounded a warning to opposing Mid North Coast teams that Coffs Harbour is likely to continue to dominate the local competition.
When various circumstances cut a swathe through the talented combination which won the 2005 premiership, many thought it would take time for the new combination to gel.
Butcher said with minimal involvement for Coffs Harbour players in representative duties this season, the new unit was able to develop their teamwork in pre-season trials and have hit the ground running with wins over Kempsey and Port Pirates. Butcher admitted Saturday's win was the best exhibition he had seen from the side in his 18 months coaching stint with Coffs Rugby.
"It was even better than the way we played to win the grand final last year," Butcher enthused after watching his side demolish the Pirates with a display of precision rugby,
"After making 19 handling errors in the opening game there were only four on Saturday and dominating possession meant we never gave them a chance.
"When I tried to allocate the match points after the game I couldn't fault anyone, they all played out of their skins."
Eventually they settled on second rower Dan Bavister for the three points and players' player.
Bavister, a new member of the side this year, attacks the game with the power of a runaway bull and if a brick wall had suddenly appeared on the field he would probably have crashed straight through it.
"Dan has taken over the role filled last year by Paul Gooley, he is a tremendously powerful runner and made ground for us all day," Butcher said.
Coffs Harbour won 19 lineouts on Saturday stealing six from the opposition throw enabling the talented backline to cut loose and display their wide array of skills.
Aware that plenty of possession would come their way, the backs waited patiently like lions eyeing their prey .
Then it was time to go in for the kill as Alex Hulme (three tries) and the experienced Kevin Simpson (two) took full toll.
Coffs Harbour dictated play from the outset dominating the rucks and mauls and controlling the set pieces with the hungry forwards pushing the Pirates scrum all over the paddock.
"Looking at the score, a lot of people thought Port Macquarie didn't have a strong side but we simply didn't give them a chance all day," Butcher said. Butcher knows there is still a long way to go but the way the side has developed their teamwork so quickly and the fact they haven't reached their full potential is a scary proposition for the other teams standing in their way.
Coffs Harbour continue their 2006 campaign with a home match on Saturday against the Manning River Rats. COFFS RUGBY 48 (Alex Hulme 3, Dan Bavister, Kevin Simpson 2, Matt Hoy tries; Aaron Stevens 4 conversions) def PORT MACQUARIE PIRATES nil.
Second grade: Port Macquarie Pirates 46 d Coffs Rugby 5
Under 18: Coffs Rugby 17 d Port Macquarie Pirates 14.